Hard Times

December 2, 2009
By Anonymous

Outside, grey clouds gathered together and swept over the sun like a tsunami on the ocean coast. The yellow orb that usually illuminated the sky could hardly been seen behind cotton wave that had taken over the sky. This was so rare around these parts where the sun always seemed to be around when it was needed.
The large house that was usually filled with such joy and activity had transformed into a solemn building with nothing but distraught creatures. Hardly anyone moved. Lost in thought. The photo filled walls that captured so many joyous memories had lost their ability to cheer up anybody. It’s impossible to go back to happy times when the present looks so barren and bleak. The family all sat in the living room they knew so well. Comfortable leather furniture seated all but a few. Two children sat on the shag carpet while the father simply leaned on the couch from behind, resting his hands on the back to keep his balance. The same thoughts rested on everyone’s mind.
How did this happen to us? What are we going to do? Will we be ok?
The father shifted his eyes around the room. Children blank stares studied the different colors mixed in with the beige within the carpet. Eyes locked in on the ground, searching for hope among the tiles and carpeting. Shoulders sagged and heads hung. The mother wept quietly as to not bring attention to herself. Clear tears drained out of her brown eyes, rolled down the side of her tanned cheek and were quickly wiped away by her petite, dainty hand. These weren’t tears of self-pity or of fear of the unknown. This was the reminder that they weren’t different from anyone else. Job-loss and devastation had finally hit home. It wasn’t simply a story in the news or something heard in passing. These were tears of worry and anger. The company had promised they were different. They said everyone was family.
If everyone was family, how can they do this to us?
It was time to be strong! Slowly, the father moved from his spot. His hands released the death grip they had on the couch, relaxing them a bit only to squeeze them into a fist again to bring blood back. Shoulders shrugged over and over, rose the old comfortable shirt around his neck with each upward motion. His head stared straight at the ground, as he struggled to look up. Joints creaked and muscles tightened, he took his first few steps away from the hopeless faces and the melancholy cloud hanging over everyone’s head began to dissipate. Navy blue slippers that had been worn every morning for over a year, shuffled across the stone-colored tile. Inching closer to a new room where he would spend most of his time. A place he had been before, and would all but sleep in now. The family took the hint and one by one removed themselves from the state of doubt they all had. New thoughts entered their minds as they walked away.
We can do it. We’ll make it through. We will be ok.
The chair had an indent from where he had sat so many times before. By then, it was old and worn. It seemed to have wrinkles similar to an elderly man, mimicking the ones starting to appear on the father. A large rip sat where the seam use to bind the material together. The cushion could be seen inside, and it squeaked from time to time. It didn’t matter. To him it was seen as a comfort for what was ahead. As his weight hit the seat, air shot out from between the soft inside. Computer on, and coffee in hand, the search was on. It was like hunting for treasure. Every resource was a clue and every email another hint on how to get to the fortune. A single deep breath before he started his hunt. He filled his lungs to absolute capacity with fresh oxygen, held it in for one… two… three seconds before slowly letting it all out. He gazed out the window and saw that the clouds had begun to move away. Some of the golden rays of the sun could almost be seen from behind the blanket of grey. His eyes shifted to the wall of his backyard. A bird hopped along the gate looking for food. A pigeon most likely. It was hard to tell one apart from another. They all look the same as they struggle to find food and shelter. Its head darted to the side as its prey was spotted. Wings rose and excitement was in its eyes. It had to move right then or it would miss its chance. It swooped down with absolute confidence; feathers blew in the wind and beak opened, ready to receive. It approached the object of its desire, but as soon as the bird was close, another snatched it away. This snapped the man back to reality. These moments were crucial. Have to get started right away before anyone else can get a chance. Fingers cracked, and coffee swallowed, the search was on!
Days pass. Weeks pass. Even a few months pass by and still nothing. The parents are worried but they won’t ever tell the children how much trouble they’re really in. Suits, ties, dress shoes. Day in and day out. Interview after interview.
Something will work out soon, won’t it?
Fingers cramped from typing. Eyes strained from computer light. His skin seems to have wrinkled more and hair grayed slightly. Stress had taken a toll on his body beyond what can be seen. He was so tired. He leaned back in his chair, and rubbed the palms of his hands against his tired eyes. He didn’t know how much more of this he could take. He leaned even further back in his chair, and threw his head up to see the ceiling. He watched the five blades of the fan spin round and round. It was mesmerizing. Thoughts began to swirl just as the blades did and the room was taken over by a silence, as he was absolutely lost in thought, watching the fan shake back and forth. The silence was sudden broken. Shattered, pieces of it lost all over the room. The silence was cut so hard and quick the father nearly fell backwards in his chair. It was only the phone. Not knowing who it could be, or what it could bring, he cleared his throat, and sat straight in his chair. Very calmly and very politely, he answered. Outside, the clouds started to slowly disintegrate. One by one, it was as if the sun had become too strong, and was melting them away. The golden light filled the whole room, covering everything with a much needed and missed, glow that reminded everyone what it meant to be happy. Very composed, the man thanked the receiver. The sides of his lips curl up as his eyelids close for just a bit longer than a standard blink. He stood up from his chair. The cushion molded back to the original shape. He clicked the fan off and walked over to his wife. After no more than a glance, she knew what had happened. Over the crackled phone, the distorted voice said what they’d been waiting to hear.
You start on Monday.

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